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Managing Leaves with Pollinators in Mind

Leaves provide great insulation and winter homes for many of our pollinators. So before raking them to the curb look for ways to incorporate them into your landscape plans.

Many moths and butterflies overwinter as eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis or adults and depend on leaf litter for winter cover.

Bumblebees also benefit from fall leaves.  At the end of summer, mated Queen bumblebees search for a winter home. They burrow a few inches into the soil to hibernate for winter. 

A layer of leaves provides added protection from winter conditions.

And if you take a closer look at the leaves in the landscape, you will find a variety of spiders, snails, millipedes, and other insects. These insects are an important part of the turtles, birds, toads and other animals’ diets. And a layer of leaves also helps protect toads overwintering in the soil of colder regions.

A bit more information:  Great spangled fritillary and wooly bear caterpillars will take advantage of leaf piles for insulation and protection from predators. Take a close look at fallen oak leaves and you may find eggs of the Red-banded hairstreaks. And when the caterpillars emerge, they begin dining on these leaves.

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